Demographic processes as drivers of population change
Understanding how demographic processes are affected by environmental and anthropogenic drivers and evolution is crucial for the conservation and management of animal populations. I study these processes in a wide range of systems, from small passerine birds in urban and rural environments to wild geese breeding in a rapidly changing Arctic and wintering in the Dutch agricultural landscapes, from rare and endangered species to super-abundant species that give rise to conflicts. This research is carried out as part of the Centre for Avian Population Studies and its partners.
Birds as vector and host of zoonotic diseases
Zoonotic diseases constitute a serious human health risk in our rapidly changing world. Many arthropod-borne viruses have birds as their primary host, and are expanding towards the temperate zone. Birds are also host to Avian Influenza, that poses a serious threat to the existence of a growing number of wild bird populations. I combine surveillance of these viruses in birds using a well-trained network of citizen scientists with virological, immunological and ecological studies to understand and predict the spread of these diseases, and their impact on wild bird population dynamics.
Flexibility of migration in a changing world
By migrating to temperate and Arctic areas birds can profit from a short but rich peak in food abundance. Migration is a dynamic feature of birds’ life histories; its appearance and form depend on the balance between relative costs and benefits. I investigate how migration adapts to changes in the environment, including climate and land-use change, in breeding and wintering areas as well as en route. I make use of long-term ringing data and modern tracking techniques.